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August 16th 2018

Personal Injury

I was injured as a passenger… what are my compensation rights?

Karen Smith

Karen Smith

Senior Litigation Executive and Manager of Personal Injury

I was injured as a passenger… what are my compensation rights?

You were sitting in the wrong seat, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now you’re nursing a serious injury that was not your fault.

You were sitting in the wrong seat, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now you’re nursing a serious injury that was not your fault.

Thankfully, passengers who are injured in an accident actually have far more compensation rights than either of the drivers involved because there is no way they can be deemed liable for the cause of the incident.

Consequently, it’s usually much easier for a passenger to claim compensation after a road traffic accident than it is for a driver. However, cases of this nature can quickly get complicated so it’s important to know your rights.

Why drivers owe a ‘duty of care’ to passengers

From a legal perspective, the driver or operator of a motor vehicle has an obligation to drive carefully and safely – to prevent injuring their passengers and to minimise the risk of hitting other road users. This is known as the ‘duty of due care’ and it also applies to operators of any type of transportation, such as boats, watercraft or aeroplanes etc.

Should the driver fail to show due care for their passengers’ safety, and this reckless or negligent driving results in a serious injury or fatality, the passenger or their heirs (in the event of death) have the right to sue for any damages which were a direct result of their injuries or loss. You also have the right to claim compensation as a passenger if the driver of another vehicle was responsible.

I was injured as a passenger in a car accident, who can I sue?

Unlike the driver of a vehicle, passengers can NEVER be at fault for road traffic accidents. As a result, they are ALWAYS entitled to recover the full amount of damages.

If you have been injured as a passenger in an accident you may be able to sue:

  • The driver of the car you were in.
  • The other driver.
  • Both drivers.

Depending on the circumstances of the incident, it may even be possible to sue:

  • Local authority – if a road surface, pot hole or faulty street light was to blame.
  • Vehicle manufacturer – for accidents caused by malfunction.

Who’s the claim against and who has to pay the damages?

If you’ve been involved as a passenger in an accident, it’s understandable that you might be apprehensive about making a claim against the driver of the car you were travelling in – especially if they were a member of your family or a friend. Thankfully, there is no need to feel awkward in this situation.

In reality, any compensation claim made against a driver will be covered by their insurance policy and it is the provider who must pay for any damages. This is the reason why the early stages of almost every RTA case focuses on finding out which party was responsible for the accident.

Dispelling the common myths about making a passenger claim

There are a number of misconceptions when it comes to passenger claims.

Most people assume they cannot claim compensation if they were in the vehicle which caused the accident.

This is not true. You can.

As outlined above, it is always the driver’s responsibility to avoid having an accident and to drive safely.

You can also make a claim even if you…

  • Knew the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Knew the driver was using a handheld mobile phone while driving.
  • Knew the driver deliberately ignored road safety advice.

The above factors might reduce the amount of compensation the driver can receive if they are involved in an accident which was not their fault, or was partly their fault, but it won’t impact upon the passenger’s settlement in the same way.

I was injured as a passenger in a taxi accident, can I claim compensation?

If you’re unfortunate enough to be injured as a passenger in a taxi accident, you may be eligible to make a taxi accident claim if the incident was not your fault.

By law, all taxi drivers in the UK must have adequate motor insurance cover and public liability insurance in place to account for such situations.

However, it can sometimes prove difficult to prove who is liable for the injuries incurred after a taxi accident and it’s a good idea to seek expert legal advice if you want to pursue a case of this nature.

Why passenger claims are not exclusive to road traffic accidents

Interestingly, passenger claims are not just restricted to car travel. If you suffer an injury when riding on any type of vehicle, you may be to file a compensation claim including on a motorbike, boat, aeroplane, ferry, taxi, bus or any form of public transport.

What types of injuries can a passenger claim for?

The wide range of injuries which can be caused by an RTA can often cost a huge amount, whether the suffering is emotional, physical or financial.

Injuries can include:

  • Facial bruising or scarring
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Whiplash
  • Burns
  • Serious head and spinal injuries
  • Loss of limbs
  • Paralysis
  • Fatal injuries

What expenses and costs will my passenger claim take into account?

As with all personal injury cases, there are a number of associated costs which can be included as part of a passenger claim.

If you have been injured as a passenger in a car accident, you may be able to secure:

  • General damages – for any pain, suffering and injuries sustained.
  • Care claim – reimburse any fees incurred for care-related costs.
  • Medical Expenses – including any private visits, medication or equipment.
  • Travel Expenses – costs paid out for taxis or trips to receive medical help.
  • Loss of earnings – both now and in the future.

What are the time limits for making a passenger claim?

Whether you are making a car, taxi or bus passenger accident claim; there are time limits in which you need to do so.

In most cases, you have three years from the date of the incident to begin a claim – or until your 21st birthday if the accident took place when you were a child.

For anyone who does not have the mental capacity to make their own legal decisions, there is no time limit to make a claim. This rule is often applied to anyone who has suffered a serious brain injury.

Where a fatality has occurred, the deceased’s family has three years in which to make a claim – starting from either the date of death or the day when the post-mortem results were received.

Time limits do vary for accidents which took place outside the UK so it is important to begin your case as soon as possible.

Why you should never feel guilty about suing a driver after an accident – even if they’re a friend or family member

Being involved in an accident as a passenger is usually anything but a pleasant experience. If you’ve sustained injuries which require specialist rehabilitation or limit your mobility, it can have a life-long impact.

Securing compensation can help you to cope with the devastating impact of this scenario. A settlement may also prove to be the difference between living comfortably or a future filled with struggles.

If you have to sue a driver who’s a friend or family member to safeguard your health and future living standards, you should – and you should not feel awkward or apprehensive about doing so. Having access to justice is a fundamental right afforded to you under UK law. Don’t feel guilty about using it.

As experienced personal injury solicitors, we have handled a countless number of cases where this has happened – and it’s more commonplace than people might think. Should you have any concerns or questions about a potential passenger claim, please get in touch – our friendly team of experts will be happy to provide free initial advice and discuss all of the options available to you.

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